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The Virginia legislature has excised the words “sea level rise” from a study on the impact of climate change, because it is apparently a “left wing term.”

State lawmakers wanted to commission a study on rising sea levels, given that Virginia is highly vulnerable to flooding, and that scientists predict that Virginia’s sea level will rise by two to three feet in the next 100 years. Republicans in the state legislature agreed — as long as “liberal code words” like “sea level rise” and “climate change” were left out of the proposal:

State Del. Chris Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, who insisted on changing the “sea level rise” study in the General Assembly to one on “recurrent flooding,” said he wants to get political speech out of the mix altogether.

He said “sea level rise” is a “left-wing term” that conjures up animosities on the right. So why bring it into the equation?

Stolle seems to believe, as comedian Stephen Colbert famously put it, that “reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

Democratic State Senator Ralph Northam, who co-sponsored the study, told the The Virginian-Pilot that Stolle threatened that the study “would end up in the circular file” unless the phrase “sea level rise” was removed.

So Northam and other Democrats agreed amend the proposal, believing that the study was more important than the language used to describe it. The Virginia Institute of Marine Scienece is currently leading the research, with results due by the end of the year.

Still, as Democratic State Delegate Kenneth Alexander told The Virginian-Pilot, “I question whether we’re doing the public a disservice by not telling it the way it is.”

The move to censor scientific language on climate change is reminiscent of North Carolina Republicans’ recent plan to essentially ban the scientific method. Virginia is at least acknowledging that climate change is happening — they just refuse to label it as such.


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